Gympie’s $3m highway gift to koalas
Work will begin within three weeks on the fencing component of a $3 million plan to replace habitat for koalas south of Gympie and keep them out of the Bruce Highway traffic.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey and Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien jointly announced the $1 million fencing component of the koala protection plan this week.
The new fencing will be installed between the Cooroy southern interchange and Sankeys Road.
And work will begin this month, they said.
Mr McCormack, who is also Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister said the project would upgrade existing fencing and add extra fauna exclusion barriers.
The project team worked closely with wildlife groups to identify areas of risk and had reviewed highway fencing installed in 2017 between the Cooroy southern interchange and Sankeys Road.
Mr Bailey said the fencing contract was part of a $3 million investment to conserve koalas.
“The koala habitat offset program involves revegetating 12 sites between Federal and Coles Creek and managing these areas until the bushland is self-sustaining and able to support koalas,” Mr Bailey said.
More than 98,000 native tube stock seedlings had already been planted and the revegetated areas would be protected by environmental legislation, he said.
Mr O’Brien said it would also help conserve “one of Wide Bay’s key assets – its native wildlife.”
The region’s unspoilt natural environment would be a drawcard for tourists, many of them travelling on the highway, he said.
“As we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to strengthen our local economy, and I am pleased the Queensland and Australian Governments are investing in this project to safeguard local wildlife, and create local jobs.”
The 62km Bruce Highway upgrade between Cooroy and Curra is expected to cost about $2.3 billion when complete, including $1 billion for the Woondum to Curra realignment of the highway around Gympie, he said.